The Boys Varsity lacrosse team snatched an impressive win over the always-tough Bridgton Academy all post-graduate squad, taking a 9-8 victory. It was the perfect way to open up their 2003 spring season. After last year’s horrific 5-13 loss to Bridgton, PA had the fire of revenge in their bellies and unleashed it, playing an excellent game. As three-year team member Tom Barron ’04 commented, “It was a huge team effort; we had great senior leadership… but we also saw some of the younger kids making a huge impact. The game was a great starting point for us to build off of.” Coach John Dugan ’92 said that the team was feeling “pretty psyched out and scared” coming into the game, but they certainly did not show it. PA’s first goal was scored by Captain Jesse Bardo ’03 on an attack off of an assist by PG Whitney Hayes ’03. Newcomer standout Tom Hawkins ’06, also on an assist from Hayes, scored PA’s second goal, and then Bardo scored yet another goal off of an assist by John Doherty ’03, to bring PA’s first half goal count to three. Despite a solid showing by PA, Bridgton still managed to score five goals due to unmarked players and slight defensive breakdowns. As Coach Dugan says, however, “I was proud even after the first half because the team didn’t quit.” And yet at the end of the first half, it appeared as though the game might have been heading towards last year’s ending. The third quarter saw a revitalized Blue. Although Bridgton’s offense held possession for long periods of time, taking up the majority of the quarter, PA’s tight defense stalled the other team’s offense. Patrick Shannon ’05, Drew Ward ’03, and Alden Andre ’03 were all strong on defense. Nate Malo ’03, the Blue’s starting goalie, had several spectacular saves. Unfortunately, Bridgton’s offense seemed relatively difficult to defend, and yet PA was still able to limit Bridgton to two goals during the third quarter, both of which were scored by unmarked players. The attack players also gained possession of the ball a few times. After midfielder Doherty brought the ball up the length of the field, the team had several shots on net. Doherty himself had five during the third quarter, all of which went wide. Despite several close, missed scoring opportunities, Barron still added amazing depth to the team with his quick stick skills, as well as Bardo, who was able to slow the game down and made numerous accurate passes to players cutting across the net. Matt Ward ’06 also proved to be a vital contributor to the team despite his age. Numerous times, Ward ’06 managed to change the field of play and get the ball back from Bridgton. Fellow junior Hawkins also continued to play well. Great passes on offense came from Hobie Boeschenstein ’04, who scored with one minute left in the quarter to bring the score up to 4- 7. When the PA team came back out for the fourth quarter, the boys had gone from the Blue to the Big Blue. A seemingly different team, Hayes scored the first goal on a bounce shot after using a penalty to PA’s advantage, and Boeschenstein scored the second goal after a centering pass allowed him to pop the ball in the net, bringing the score to 6 – 7. Also helping PA was that after each goal, the team won most face-offs, allowing the team to keep up its winning momentum. Bardo tied the game up with nine minutes left after a turnover behind the net that gave the ball to PA, and Hayes, using great ball shielding, brought the team one goal up by shooting the ball past the goalie from twenty yards out off of a crisp pass from Doherty. After losing their lead, Bridgton fought back and shifted fields with the ball. PA’s opponents bounded down field and once again tied the game up at 8 – 8. With seven minutes left in the last quarter, PA’s offensive flourish caused Bridgton to call a nervous time out. And afterwards, Hayes scored the final shot of the game, closing the score at 9 – 8. Much of PA’s win can be attributed to the team’s taking advantage of man-up opportunities, an unselfish offense that passed and executed when the perfect opportunity arose, and to a defense that was able to adjust their playing in order to prevent Bridgton goals. As Bardo commented, “We put in 180%. The coaches reminded us that we were on Academy Hill and that we should work together and go out there and play as the best team not as the best individual players. Everyone contributed – players on the bench, players from different grades, and it showed.” Coach Dugan elaborated, saying, “The first step was playing a ball game with an all PG team. The second step was stepping up play and winning.” Barron concluded, “We gained a lot in that game: experience against a very strong opponent, confidence in tight situations, and we can actually overcome a three goal deficit. This game showed many differences between this Andover team and others in recent history. In my three years on the team, Bridgton was the sort of game where we would get blown out, and we would just tell ourselves we played hard and that that was good enough. Now, nothing is taken for granted before entering a game.” PA proved that it has what it takes to win against one of the strongest teams in New England.
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